Gay Lea Foods to renovate and innovate in Canada’s dairy sector for 2017

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Gay Lea Foods said it is poised for further growth in 2017 with its $140m investment in the ingredients sector.
Gay Lea Foods said it is poised for further growth in 2017 with its $140m investment in the ingredients sector.

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Gay Lea Foods will be expanding its reach into more of Canada with an emphasis on research and development of dairy ingredients, president and CEO Michael Barrett said during the Canadian cooperative’s annual general meeting.

The dairy company said that its continued focus on innovation and expanding its ingredients will be key drivers of job creation and economic growth in Canada’s agri-food sector.

Investment in dairy ingredients with renovation and innovation

In November 2016, Gay Lea announced a C$140m (US$107m) investment to be spent over four years to establish an “innovative, nutrition, and nutraceuticals-grade dairy ingredients hub”​ in Canada. The first phase will be a C$3m (US$2.29m) investment to build a research and development center in Hamilton, Ontario.

“This working laboratory and innovation incubator will be the nexus between R&D and commercialization throughout Gay Lea Foods’ operations, and also service our partners in the dairy, food and health sectors,”​ Gay Lea said in a statement.

Also beginning early this year will be the renovation and upgrade of the Teeswater Creamery in Ontario, which joined Gay Lea in 1981. The Teeswater Creamery will undergo a C$60m (US$46m) expansion plan in early 2017, according to the cooperative.

“We are going to be seriously upgrading and modernizing our plant in Teeswater, which is a big deal because Teeswater is a really small community and we’re kind of the only industry left there,”​ Gay Lea communications manager, Robin Redstone, told DairyReporter.

“It wasn’t necessarily the most advantageous move financially for Gay Lea Foods to put the investment there, but what we did was save the plant and subsequently the town almost.”

Manitoba presence

As a Canadian-owned dairy co-operative comprised of more than 4,000 members, expanding its membership to all parts of Canada is an ongoing effort.

In 2017 Gay Lea Foods’ delegates will spread membership eligibility to dairy farmers in Manitoba.

The move follows the joint venture Gay Lea announced with Vitalus Nutrition Inc. in November 2016 to process dairy and butter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, further strengthening its ingredients business. In turn, dairy farmers of Manitoba will supply the raw milk for the processing facility.

“As we expand into Manitoba to increase processing of Manitoba milk, we welcome our fellow dairy farmers in Manitoba the same opportunity to be member owners,”​ Gay Lea chair Steve Dolson said in a press statement. 

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